صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني
[ocr errors]

owed to themselves. With Burns again it | earthly voices, and brightening the thick smoke
was different. His morality, in most of its of intoxication with fire lent him from heaven?
practical points, is that of a mere worldly man; Was it his aim to enjoy life? To-morrow he
enjoyment, in a finer or a coarser shape, is the must go drudge as an Exciseman! We won-
only thing he longs and strives for. A noble der not that Burns became moody, indignant,
instinct sometimes raises him above this; but and at times an offender against certain rules
an instinct only, and acting only for moments. of society ; but rather that he did not grow
He has no Religion ; in the shallow age, where utterly frantic, and run a-muck against them
his days were cast, Religion was not discrimi- all. How could a man, so falsely placed, by
nated from the New and Old Light forms of his own or others' fault, ever know content-
Religion ; and was, with these, becoming ob- ment or peaceable diligence for an hour !
solete in the minds of men. His heart, indeed, What he did, under such perverse guidance,
is alive with a trembling adoration, but there and what he forbore to do, alike fill us with
is no temple in his understanding. He lives astonishment at the natural strength and worth
in darkness and in the shadow of doubt. His of his character.
religion, at best, is an anxious wish ; like that Doubtless there was a remedy for this per-
of Rabelais, “ a great Perhaps.”

verseness: but not in others; only in himself;
He loved Poetry warmly, and in his heart; least of all in simple increase of wealth and
could he but have loved it purely, and with his worldly“ respectability.” We hope we have
whole undivided heart, it had been well. For now heard enough about the efficacy of wealth
Poetry, as Burns could have followed it, is but for poetry, and to make poets happy. Nay,
another form of Wisdom, of Religion; is itself have we not seen another instance of it in
Wisdom and Religion. But this also was de- these very days ? Byron, a man of an endow
nied him. His poetry is a stray vagrant gleam, ment considerably less ethereal than that of
which will not be extinguished within him, yet Burns, is born in the rank not of a Scottish
rises not to be the true light of his path, but is ploughman, but of an English peer: the high-
often a wildfire that misleads him. It was not est worldly honours, the fairest worldly career,
necessary for Burns to be rich, to be, or to are his by inheritance: the richest harvest of
seem, “independent;" but it w18 necessary for fame he soon reaps, in another province, by
him to be at one with his own heart; to place his own hand. And what does all this avail
what was highest in his nature, highest also in him? Is he happy, is he good, is he true?
his life; " to seek within himself for that con- Alas, he has a poet's soul, and strives towards
sistency and sequence, which external events the Infinite and the Eternal; and soon feels
would for ever refuse him.” He was born a that all this is but mounting to the house-top
poet; poetry was the celestial element of his to reach the stars! Like Burns, he is only a
being, and should have been the soul of his proud man; might like him have “purchased
wh le endeavours. Lifted into that serene a pocket-copy of Milton to study the character
ether, whither he had wings given him to of Satan;" for Satan also is Byron's grand er-
moont, he would have needed no other eleva- emplar, the hero of his poetry, and the model
tion: Poverty, neglect, and all evil, save the apparently of his conduct. As in Burns's case
desecration of himself and his Art, were a too, the celestial element will not mingle with
small matter to him; the pride and the pas- the clay of earth; both poet and man of the
sions of the world lay far beneath his feet; world he must not be ; vulgar Ambition will
and he looked down alike on noble and slave, not live kindly with poetic Adoration; he can-
on prince, and beggar, and all that wore the not serve God and Mammon. Byron, like Burns,
stamp of man, with clear recognition, with is not happy; nay, he is the most wretched of
brotherly affection, with sympathy, with pity. all men. His life is falsely arranged: the fire
Nay, we question whether for his culture as a that is in him is not a strong, still, central fire,
Poet, poverty, and much suffering for a season, warming into beauty the products of a world;
were not absolutely advantageous. Great men, but it is the mad fire of a volcano; and now,-
in looking back over their lives, have testified we look sadly into the ashes of a crater, whicn,
to that effect. “I would not for much," says erelong, will fill itself with snow!
Jean Paul,“ that I had been born richer.” And Byron and Burns were sent forth as mis-
yet Paul's birth was poor enough; for, in an- sionaries to their generation, to teach it a
other place, he adds: “The prisoner's allow- higher Doctrine, a purer Truth: they had a
ance is bread and water; and I had often only message to deliver, which, left them no rest
the latter." But the gold that is refined in the till it was accomplished; in dim throes of pain,
hottest furnace comes out the purest; or, as this divine behest lay smouldering within
he has himself expressed it, “the canary-bird them; for they knew not what it meant, and
sings sweeter the longer it has been trained in felt it only in mysterious anticipation, and they
a darkened cage.”

had to die without articulately uttering it, A man like Burns might have divided his They are in the camp of the Unconverted, hours between poetry and virtuous industry; Yet not as high messengers of rigorous industry which all true feeling sanctions, nay though benignant truth, but as soft Aattering prescribes, and which has a beauty, for that singers, and in pleasant fellowship, will they cause, beyond the pomp of thrones : but to live there; they are first adulated, then perse divide his hours between poetry and rich men's cuted; they accomplish little for others; they banquets, was an ill-starred and inauspicious find no peace for themselves, but only death attempt. How could he be at ease at such and the peace of the grave. We confess, it banquets! What had he to do there, mingling is not without a certain mournful awe that we his inusic with the coarse roar of altogether view the fate of these noble souls, so richly

gifted, yet ruined to so little purpose with all average; nay, from doubting that he is less their gifts. It seems to us there is a stern guilty than one of ten thousand. Tried at a moral taught in this piece of history,—iwice tribunal far more rigid than that where the told us in our own time! Surely to men of Plebiscita of common civic reputations are prolike genius, if there be any such, it carries nounced, he has seemad to us even there less with it a lesson of deep impressive significance. worthy of blame than of pity and wonder. Surely it would become such a man, furnished But the world is habitually unjust in its judg. for the highest of all enterprises, that of being ments of such men ; unjust on many grounds, the Poet of his Age, to consider well what it is of which this one may be stated as the subthat he attempts, and in what spirit he attempts stance: It decides, like a court of law, by dead it. For the words of Milton are true in all statutes; and not positively but negatively, times, and were never truer than in this: "He, less on what is done right, than on what is, or who would write heroic poems, must make his is not, done wrong. Not the few inches of rewhole life a heroic poem.” If he cannot first flection from the mathematical orbit, which so make his life, then let him hasten from this are so easily measured, but the ratio of these arena; for neither its lofty glories, nor its to the whole diameter, constitutes the real fearful perils, are for him. Let him dwindle aberration. This orbit may be a planet's, its into a modish ballad-monger; let him worship diameter the breadth of the solar system; or and be-sing the idols of the time, and the time it may be a city hippodrome; nay, the circle will not fail to reward him,-if, indeed, he can of a ginhorse, its diameter a score of feet or endure to live in that capacity! Byron and paces. But the inches of deflection only are Burns could not live as idol-priests, but the measured; and it is assumed that the diameter fire of their own hearts consumed them; and of the ginhorse, and that of the planet, will better it was for them that they could not. For yield the same ratio when compared with it is not in the favour of the great, or of the them. Here lies the root of many a blind, small, but in a life of truth, and in the inexo cruel condemnation of Burnses, Swifts, Rous. pugnable citadel of his own soul, that a seaus, which one never listens to with apByron's or a Burns's strength must lie. Let proval. Granted, the ship comes into harbour the great stand aloof from him, or know how with shrouds and tackle damaged; and the to reverence him. Beautiful is the union of pilot is therefore blameworthy; for he has not wealth with favour and furtherance for litera- been all-wise and all-powerful; but to know ture; like the costliest flower-jar enclosing the how blameworthy, tell us first whether his loveliest amaranth. Yet let not the relation voyage has been round the Globe, or only to be mistaken. A true poet is not one whom Ramsgate and the Isle of Dogs. they can hire by money or flattery to be a min- With our readers in general, with men of ister of their pleasures, their writer of occa- right feeling anywhere, we are not required to sional verses, their purveyor of table-wit; he plead for Burns. In pitying admiration, he cannot be their menial, he cannot even be their lies enshrined in all our hearts, in a far nobler partisan. At the peril of both parties, let no mausoleum than that one of marble; neither such union be attempted! Will a Courser of will his Works, even as they are, pass away the Sun work softly in the harness of a Dray- from the memory of men. While the Shakhorse ? His hoofs are of fire, and his path is speares and Miltons roll on like mighty rivers through, the heavens, bringing light to all through the country of Thought, bearing fleets lands; will he lumber on mud highways, drag- of traffickers and assiduous pearl-fishers on ging ale for earthly appetites, from door to their waves; this little Valclusa Fountain will door?

also arrest our eye: For this also is of Nature's But we must stop short in these considera- own and most cunning workmanship, bursts tions, which would lead us to boundless lengths. from the depths of the earth, with a full gushWe had something to say on the public moral ing current, into the light of day; and often character of Burns; but this also we must for- will the traveller turn aside to drink of its bear. We are far from regarding him as clear waters, and muse among its rocks and guilty before the world, as guiltier than the pines !

THE LIFE OF HEYN E.*

(FOREIGN REVIEW, 1828.]

Tuz labours and merits of Heyne being better woven, ultimately and properly, indeed, by the known, and more justly appreciated in England, wit of man, yet immediately, and in the meanthan those of almost any other German, whe- while, by the mere aid of time and steam. ther scholar, poet, or philosopher, we cannot But our Professor's mode of speculation is but believe that some notice of his life may be little less intensely academic than his mode of acceptable to most readers. Accordingly, we writing. We fear he is something of what the here mean to give a short abstract of this vo- Germans call a Kleinstädter ;-mentally as well lume, a miniature copy of the “biographical as bodily, a "dweller in a little town." He portrait," but must first say a few words on the speaks at great length, and with undue fondportrait itself, and the limner by whom it has ness, of the “Georgia Augusta," which, after all, been drawn.

is but the University of Göttingen, an earthly, Professor Heeren is a man of learning, and and no celestial institution : it is nearly in vain known far out of his own Hanoverian circle,- that he tries to contemplate Heyne as a Euroindeed, more or less to all students of history, pean personage, or even as a German one; be. -by his researches on Ancient Commerce, a yond the precincts of the Georgia Augusta, his voluminous account of which from his hand view seems to grow feeble and soon die away enjoys considerable reputation. He is evi- into vague inanity; so we have not Heyne, the depily a man of sense and natural talent, as man and scholar, but Heyne, the Göttingen well as learning; and his gifts seem to lie Professor. But neither is this habit of mind round him in quiet arrangement, and very any strange or crying sin, or at all peculiar to much at his own command. Nevertheless, we Göttingen; as, indeed, most parishes of Eng. cannot admire him as a writer; we do not land can produce more than one example to even reckon that such endowments as he has show. And yet it is pitiful, when an establishare adequately represented in his books. His ment for universal science, which ought to be style both of diction and thought is thin, cold, a watch-tower where a man might see all the formal, without force or character, and pain- | kingdoms of the world, converts itself into a fully reminds us of college lectures. He can workshop, whence he sees nothing but his tool. work rapidly, but with no freedom, and, as it box and bench, and the world, in broken were, only in one attitude, and at one sort of glimpses, through one patched and highly dislabour. Not that we particularly blame Pro- coloured pane! fessor Heeren for this, but that we think he Sometimes, indeed, our worthy friend rises might have been something better: These into a region of the moral sublime, in which it “ fellows in buckram," very numerous in cer- is difficult for a foreigner to follow him. Thus tain walks of literature, are an unfortunate, he says, on one occasion, speaking of Heyne: rather than a guilty class of men ; they have "Immortal are his merits in regard to the catafallen, perhaps unwillingly, into the plan of logues"—of the Göttingen library. And, to writing by pattern, and can now do no other; cite no other instance, except the last and best for, in their minds, the beautiful comes at last one, we are informed, that, when Heyne died, to be simply synonymous with the neat. Every “the guardian angels of the Georgia Augusta sentence bears a family-likeness to its precur- waited in that higher world to meet him with sor; most probably it has a set number of blessings.” By day and night! There is no clanses; (three is a favourite number, as in such guardian angel, that we know of, for the Gibbon, for “the muses delight in odds;") has University of Gottingen; neither does it need also a given rhythm, a known and foreseen one, being a good solid seminary of itself, with music, simple but limited enough, like that of handsome stipends from Government. We had ill-bred fingers drumming on a table. And imagined, too, that if anybody welcomed peothen it is strange how soon the outward rhythm ple into heaven, it would be St. Peter, or at carries the inward along with it; and the least some angel of old standing, and not a thought moves with the same stinted, ham- mere mushroom, as this of Göttingen must be, strung rub-a-dub as the words. In a state of created since the year 1739. perfection, this species of writing comes to But we are growing very ungrateful to the resemble power-loom weaving: it is not the good Heeren, who meant no harm by these mind that is at work, but some scholastic ma- Aourishes of rhetoric, and, indeed, does not chinery which the mind has of old constructed, often indulge in them. The grand questions and is from afar observing. Shot follows shot with us here are, Did he know the truth in this from the unwearied shuttle; and so the web is matter? and was he disposed to tell it honestly?

To both of which questions we can answer Christian Gottlob Heyne, biographisch dargestellt von wi reserve, that all appearances are in Arnold Heriann Luderin Heeren. leyne, biographically portrayed by Arnold Hermann his favour. He was Heyne's pupil, colleague, ludwig Heren.) Göttingen.

son-in-law, and so knew him intimately for thirty years: he has every feature also of a 'produced, and could find none to buy it! just, quiet, truth-loving man; so that we see Sometimes a fresh attempt was made through little reason to doubt the authenticity, the inno- me or my sister; I had to return to the pur. cence, of any statement in his volume. What chasers with the same piece of ware, to see more have we to do with him then, but to take whether we could not possibly get rid of it. thankfully what he has been pleased and able In that quarter there is a class of so-called to give us, and, with all despatch, communi- merchants, who, however, are in fact nothing cate it to our readers.

more than forestallers, that buy up the linen Heyne's Life is not without an intrinsic, as made by the poorer people at the lowest well as an external interest; for he had much price, and endeavour to sell it in other dis. to struggle with, and he struggled with it man- tricts at the highest. Often have I seen one fully; thus his history has a value independent or other of these petty tyrants, with all the of his fame. Some account of his early years pride of a satrap, throw back the piece of we are happily enabled to give in his own goods offered him, or imperiously cut off some words; we translate a considerable part of this trifle from the price and wages required for it. passage, autobiography being a favourite sort | Necessity constrained the poorer to sell the of reading with us.

sweat of his brow at a groschen or two less, He was born at Chemnitz, in Upper Saxony, and again to make good the deficit by starving. in September, 1729; the eldest of a poor weav- It was the view of such things that awakened er's mily, poor almost to the verge of desti- the first sparks of indignation in my young tution.

heart. The show of pomp and plenty among “My good father, George Heyne,” says he, these purse-proud people, who fed themselves was a native of the principality of Glogau, in on the extorted crumbs of so many hundreds, Silesia, from the little village of Gravenschutz. far from dazzling me into respect or fear, filled His youth had fallen in those times when the me with rage against them. The first time I Evangelist party of that province were still heard of tyrannicide at school, there rose exposed to the oppressions and persecutions vividly before me the project to become a of the Romish Church. His kindred, enjoying Brutus on all those oppressors of the poor, the blessing of contentment in an humble but who had so often cast my father and mother independent station, felt, like others, the influ- into straits : and here, for the first time, was ence of this proselytizing bigotry, and lost their an instance of a truth, which I have since had domestic peace by means of it. Some went frequent occasion to observe, that if the unover to the Romish faith. My father left his happy man armed with feeling of his wrongs, native village, and endeavoured, by the labour and a certain strength of soul, does not risk of his hands, to procure a livelihood in Saxony. the utmosi and become an open criminal, it is • What will it profit a man if he gain the whole merely the beneficent resuli of those circunworld, and lose his own soul!' was the thought stances in which Providence has placed him, which the scenes of his youth had stamped the thereby fettering his activity, and guarding most deeply on his mind; but no lucky chance him from such destructive attempts. That favoured his enterprises or endeavours to bet- the oppressing part of mankind should be seter his condition, ever so little. On the con- cured against the oppressed was, in the plan trary, a series of perverse incidents kept him of inscrutable wisdom, a most important ele continually below the limits even of a moder- ment of the present system of things. ate sufficiency. His old age was thus left a My good parents did what they could, and prey to poverty, and to her companions, timid sent me to a child's school in the suburbs; I ity and depression of mind. Manufactures, at obtained the praise of learning very fast and that time, were visibly declining in Saxony; being very fond of it. My schoolmaster had and the misery among the working classes, in two soris, lately returned from Leipzig, a cou. districts concerned in the linen trade, was ple of depraved fellows, who took all pains to unusually severe. Scarcely could the labour lead me astray; and, as I resisted, kept me of the hands suffice to support the labourer him- for a long time, by threats and mistreatment self, still less his family. The saddest aspect of all sorts, extremely miserable. So early as which the decay of civic society can exhibit my tenth year, to raise the money for my school has always appeared to me to be this, when wages, I had given lessons to a neighbour's honourable, honour-loving, conscientious dili- child, a little girl

, in reading and writing. As gence cannot, by the utmost efforts of toil, ob- the common school-course could take me no tain the necessaries of life, or when the work- farther, the point now was to get a private ing man cannot even find work; but must hour and proceed into Latin. But for that stand with folded arms, lamenting his forced purpose a guer groschen weekly was required: idleness, through which himself and his family this my parents had not to give. Many a day are verging to starvation, or it may be, actually I carried this grief about with me: however, I suffering the pains of hunger.

had a godfather, who was in easy circum“It was in the extremest penury that I was stances, a baker, and my mother's half-brother. born and brought up. The earliest compa- One Saturday I was sent to this man to fetch nion of my childhood was Want; and my a loaf. With wet eyes I entered his house, first impressions came from the tears of my and chanced to find my godfather himself mother, who had not bread for her children. there. Being questioned why I was crying, I How often have I seen her on Saturday-nights tried to answer, but a whole stream of tears wringing her hands and weeping, when she broke loose, and scarcely could I make the had come back with what the hard toil, nay, cause of my sorrow intelligible. My magnanioften the sleepless nights, of her husband had Imous godfather offered to pay the weekly

66

[ocr errors]

groschen out of his own pocket; and only this all this before I had read any authors, or could condition was imposed on me, that I should possibly possess any store of words. The come to him every Sunday, and repeat what man was withal passionate and rigorous; in part of the Gospel I had learned by heart. every point repulsive; with a moderate income This latter arrangement had one good effect he was accused of avarice; he had the stifffor me,-it exercised my memory, and I ness and self-will of an old bachelor, and at learned to recite without bashfulness.

the same time the vanity of aiming to be a “ Drunk with joy, I started off with my loaf; good Latinist, and, what was more, a Latin tossing it up time after time into the air, and verse-maker, and consequently a literary cler. barefoot as I was, I capered aloft after it. But gyman. These qualities of his all contributed hereupon my loaf fell into a puddle. This to overload my youth, and nip away in the bud misfortune again brought me a little to reason ; every enjoyment of its pleasures." my mother heartily rejoiced at the good news; In this plain but somewhat leaden style does my father was less content. Thus passed a Heyne proceed, detailing the crosses and losses couple of years; and my schoolmaster inti- of his school-years. We cannot pretend that mated what I myself had long known, that I the narrative delights us much; nay, that it is could now learn no more from him.

not rather bald and barren for such a narra“ This then was the time when I must leave tive: but its fidelity may be relied on; and it school, and betake me to the handicraft of paints the clear, broad, strong, and somewhat my father. Were not the artisan under op- heavy nature of the writer, perhaps better pressions of so many kinds, robbed of the than description could do. It is curious, for fruits of his hard toil, and of so many advan- instance, to see with how little of a purely hutages to which the useful citizen has a natural mane interest he looks back to his childhood : claim; I should still sayı-Had I but continued how Heyne the man has almost grown into a in the station of my parents, what thousand- sort of teaching-machine, and sees in Heyne fold vexations would at this hour have been the boy little else than the incipient Gerundunknown to me! My father could not but be grinder, and tells us little else but how this anxious to have a grown-up son for an assist- wheel after the other was developed in him, ant in his labour, and looked upon my repug. and he came at last to grind in complete perDance to it with great dislike. I again longed fection. We could have wished to get some to get into the grammar-school of the town; view into the interior of that poor Chemnitz but for this all means were wanting. Where hovel, with its unresting loom and cheerless was a gulden of quarterly fees, where were hearth, its squalor and devotion, its affection books and a blue cloak to be come at; how and repining; and the fire of natural genius wistfully my look often hung on the walls of struggling into flame amid such incumbrances, the school when I learned it!

in an atmosphere so damp and close! But of "A clergyman of the suburbs was my se all this we catch few farther glimpses; and cond godfather; his name was Sebastian Sey- hear only of Fabricius and Owen and Pasor, del; my schoolmaster, who likewise belonged and school-examinations, and rectors that had 10 his congregation, had told him of me; I been taught by Ernesti. Neither, in another was sent for, and after a short examination, he respect, not of omission but of commission, promised me that I should go to the town can this piece of writing altogether content school; he himself would bear the charges.us. We must object a little to the spirit of it Who can express my happiness, as I then felt as too narrow, too intolerant. Sebastian Seyit! I was despatched to the first teacher, ex- del must have been a very meager man; but amined, and placed with approbation in the is it right, that Heyne, of all others, should second class. Weakly from the first, pressed speak of him with asperity? Without quesdown with sorrow and want, without any tion the unfortunate Seydel meant nobly, had cheerful enjoyment of childhood or youth, I not thrift stood in his way. Did he not pay was still of very small stature; my class-fel- down his gulilen every quarter regularly, and lows judged by externals, and had a very slight give the boy a blue cloak, though a coarse opinion of me. Scarcely by various proofs one? Nay, he bestowed old books on him of diligence, and by the praises I received, and instruction, according to his gist, in the could I get so far that they tolerated my being mystery of verse-making. And was not all put beside them.

this something? And if thrist and charity “And certainly my diligence was not a little had a continual battle to fight, was not this hampered! Of his promise, the clergyman, better than a flat surrender on the part of the indeed, kept so much, that he paid my quar- latter? The other pastors of Chemnitz are terly fees, provided me with a coarse cloak, all quietly forgotten : why should Sebastian and gave me some useless volumes that were be remembered to his disadvantage for being lying on his shelves; but to furnish me with only a little better than they? school-books he could not resolve. I thus Heyne continued to be much infested with found myself under the necessity of borrow- tasks from Sebastian, and sorely held down by ing a class-fellow's books, and daily copying want, and discouragement of every sort. The a part of them before the lesson. On the other school-course, moreover, he says, was bad. hand, the honest man would have some hand nothing but the old routine ; vocables, trans. himself in my instruction, and gave me from lations, exercises; all without spirit or purtime to time some hours in Latin. In his pose. Nevertheless, he continued to mako youth he had learned to make Latin verses: what we must call wonderful proficiency in scarcely was Erasmus de Civilitate Morum got these branches; especially as he had still to over, when I too must take to verse-making;l write every task before he could learn it. For

[ocr errors]
« السابقةمتابعة »